SOMALIA -Departing pirates

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SOMALIA - 100505 EU helps boost Somali government's military strength

Thousands displaced by clashes in Galgadud

Somalia displaced
Somalia displaced - Photo_Manoocher Deghati_IRIN

SOMALIA , 4 January 2010 (IRIN)


Thousands of families have fled Somalia's central town of Dusamareb, the regional capital of Galgadud, after a weekend of fighting between Islamist groups killed dozens and left many others injured, locals told IRIN.

On 2 January, Al-Shabab attacked Dusamareb, 500km north of the capital Mogadishu, and captured it from Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a - a traditional Sufi group - for a short while before being forced out again.

"Our estimate is that between 6,000 and 7,000 families [32,000 to 42,000 people] have fled and are now displaced," Sheikh Abdirahman Gedoqorow, a religious leader, told IRIN on 4 January.

Most of the displaced are scattered across rural villages and towns in the region, he said.

Gedoqorow said those displaced were facing difficult conditions due to insufficient assistance in the areas to which they had fled. "There is no one out there helping them and the area has been ravaged by drought."

He said the displaced "desperately" needed shelter material, food and water, the most urgent requirement.

tl_files/aefjn-images/im_Africa/im_Afr_Crisis/Somalia_Galgadud Ph_Reliefweb.jpg             Rising death toll

A local leader estimated that 50 people had so far died in the fighting and at least 80 had been injured. However, a journalist, who requested anonymity, said the death toll was likely to be higher.

"The majority of those who died were from the invading [Al-Shabab] group," the journalist said.

The two groups have been battling for control of the country's central regions since Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a routed Al-Shabab from the area in December 2008.

The journalist added that Al-Shabab had since been reported to have left the area. "They are nowhere near Dusamareb. They took a beating on Saturday [2 January]."

Dusamareb, a town of about 40,000, has in the past three years hosted thousands of displaced people from Mogadishu. "Whether residents or IDPs, almost 80 percent are now displaced," the journalist added.

Security assured

While acknowledging that aid agencies would be reluctant to come to the aid of the displaced - given the insecurity - Gedoqorow said agencies seeking to help should contact community leaders.

"Despite rumours, the situation now is under control and we have complete security in the town," he said. "No one should be afraid."

Sporadic fighting has been going on across the country since Ethiopian troops withdrew in December 2008, pitting African Union-backed government forces against Islamist insurgents.

Aid workers estimate that at least 3.6 million Somalis need assistance countrywide while the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that up to 1.5 million Somalis are displaced.

Abdirazaq Moalim, the head of the education department in Dusamareb, told IRIN all schools in the town were closed as most students had stayed away.

"The students have not returned yet and we are not sure when they will," Moalim, who also fled with his family, said.

He said there was a general fear of Al-Shabab returning.

Moalim said many of the displaced had gone to areas with very little water. "I am carrying five [20-litre] jerry cans of water to the displaced in Eil Barkad [10km north of Dusamareb]," he said.

SOMALIA: Residents and sandbank stymie pirates' plan


NAIROBI, 19 November 2009 (IRIN) - Residents of a coastal town in Somalia's self-declared autonomous region of Puntland saved the crew of a fishing boat when they foiled an attempt by pirates, who had captured the boat, to sail away. 


The pirates had commandeered the boat off the Somali coast on 1 November and sailed it to the town of Eil in Puntland, northeastern Somalia. However, the boat, manned by nine Indians and Bangladeshis, hit a sandbank and ran aground in Eil, prompting the inhabitants to demand the mariners’ release. 


“I think when they realized they where all Bengalis and Indians they decided to use the boat to hunt other ships and use the crew to run it," Abdirahman Hassan Koronto, a businessman in Eil, said. 


He said the pirates tried to get the boat back in the high seas but residents stopped them. The pirates resisted for about five days but finally surrendered the crew, Koronto added. 


"This is one case were their plan did not work out the way they wanted," said Koronto. 


“If they went back to sea they were going to use them [the crew] so we decided that we would not let them harm these poor people," said Asha Abdikarim, a resident. 


The residents asked the Puntland authorities to send forces to help them keep the boat, she told IRIN. 


“I think when they saw the whole town - women, men and children - were out and confronting them, they thought better of it and released the crew to us," said Abdikarim. "For once we showed them that they cannot do their ugly deeds in our town." 


She said residents of coastal towns were fed up with pirates. "No one wants them here," she said. 


Elders took the nine crewmen to a hotel in town where they stayed until Puntland forces arrived. 

Abdimahdi Abshir, the director of administration of the Puntland presidency, told IRIN the boat and crew were now in the hands of the authorities. 


"The boat is being repaired and will be brought to Bosasso," he said, adding that the crew had been taken to Garowe, the Puntland capital, where they were under the care of the administration. 


"They are doing well and we are trying to arrange for them to be sent home,” he said. 


Abshir said the authorities had asked humanitarian agencies to help repatriate the seamen. 


Phuban Das, a member of the boat's crew, told IRIN they were in Garowe and safe. 


"We are free and here," he said. 

© IRIN News


AMISOM : Suspension of EU funding and Islamist threats against Bujumbura and Kampala

The African Union Peace Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) suffered a hard blow with the announcement on 2 October 2009 of the suspension of the financial support by the European Union (EU) apparently due to the African Union (AU), which deployed the force to pacify this country, but did not take responsibility for it. The EU’s withdrawal has already left 1,500 AMISOM soldiers without pay for three months. The troops from Burundi which are committed there have already lost several soldiers in attacks by militant Islamists. Confronted by this situation, the Burundian army has made conditions if it is to stay in Somalia. The Chief of Staff of the Burundian National Defence Force (FDN) has asked the international community to revise and increase the mandate for this force within six months so as to guarantee the carrying out of the mission of the Burundian contingent in this country which has been devoured by civil war for more than 18 years.


Still on the subject of AMISOM, the Somali Islamists, in a communiqué of 23 October 2009, have threatened to launch attacks on the capitals of Uganda (Kampala) and Burundi (Bujumbura), according to them to avenge the death of civilians in Mogadishu who were killed by African Union bombardments of poor neighbourhoods. The spokesperson of AMISOM in Mogadishu has denied that AU soldiers bombarded the town and attributed the civilian deaths to armed action by insurgents. You will remember that Burundi and Uganda are the only countries contributing to AMISOM which has a total of 5,000 men deployed in several key sectors of Mogadishu in support of the transitional government of Somalia. Fighting in Somalia has caused 19,000 civilian deaths since January 2007 and has displaced 1.5 million people, creating one of the worst emergency humanitarian situations in the world.


On 2 November 2009, the international rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the Congolese armed forces had brutally killed hundreds of civilians in the east of the country since the start of the military operations, “Umoja wetu” and “Kimia II”.  In spite of this and being fully informed about this crime, the UN peacekeeping force, MONUC, continues the operations in the course of which these violent acts were committed.

HRW sent 21 enquiry missions into the field in North Kivu and South Kivu between January and October 2009. It has noted that soldiers of the Congolese army have deliberately killed at least 198 civilians during “Umoja wetu”, the joint operation with the Rwanda army in January and February, and 505 civilians since March during “Kimia II”. Anneke Van Woudenberg, researcher at HRW, concludes that « it is urgent to envisage other ways of disarming the FDLR which will not result in new violence against the population of the east of the Congo ».

A few days before the HRW declaration, the Cadre permanent de concertation de la femme congolaise  - the Congolese women’s permanent structure for dialogue (CAFCO) had submitted to the meetings of two Senate Committees their proposals for amending the proposed law on the status of military personnel in the Congolese armed forces. These proposals are to ensure that the law takes into account concerns related to gender and human rights so that the FARDC can make a clear break with its past which has been marked by numerous abuses. Aware of the fact that several members of the FARDC have committed serious human rights violations including rape and sexual violence, CAFCO’s proposals envisage establishing moral criteria and also effective disciplinary measures when abuses occur.  For CAFCO, supported by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), international donors must insist that a vetting process should be part of a proper long term commitment to the reform of the security sector. Such a process would involve checking all current FARDC personnel and excluding all those who have committed serious crimes. On 6 November, the chief of The UN peacekeeping force, Alain Le Roy, stated in any case that he had «decided that MONUC would immediately suspend its logistical and operational support to any units of the FARDC implicated» in the massacre of 62 people in the village of Lukweti (100 km north west of Goma) between May and September 2009.


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